In The Know: Tribal relief aid at risk | SQ 640 remains obstacle to prosperity | Proposed education bill would open ‘endless litigation’

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: SQ 640 remains obstacle to Oklahoma’s prosperity: When it comes to identifying the largest structural obstacles to improving the quality and effectiveness of Oklahoma’s public programs and services, State Question 640 stands at the head of the line. This measure allows Oklahoma lawmakers to raise revenue only with a 75% approval of both the House and Senate. [Ahniwake Rose / OK Policy

State Government News

Oklahoma’s vote to ban most abortions comes at a key moment for reproductive rights: Oklahoma lawmakers have approved a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony except in the case of a medical emergency. It’s the latest conservative legislature to approve a new restriction on abortion, as Republican-led states across the country push to limit reproductive rights. [KOSU

  • What we know about an Oklahoma bill that would make performing an abortion a felony [The Oklahoman

Legislator: Public schools open to ‘endless litigation’ under proposed law allowing state to pursue discrimination complaints: A multipurpose bill allowing the attorney general to investigate public schools for discrimination passed a hurdle in the state legislature Wednesday morning. [Public Radio Tulsa

While encouraging O’Donnell investigation, Hunter convinced McCall to stall O’Donnell bill: In the early months of 2021, then-Attorney General Mike Hunter was delivering separate messages to a pair of prominent elected officials about then-House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, with whom he had feuded on the topic of opioid lawsuits. Around the same time, House Speaker Charles McCall — one of O’Donnell’s closest friends in the Legislature — says Hunter asked him to stop one of O’Donnell’s bills. [NonDoc]  

State tax revenue hits record high for March: Tax payments to Oklahoma’s state treasury last month totaled $1.38 billion — a record for March, state Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Wednesday. [Tulsa World

ACLU of Oklahoma files amicus brief against Oklahoma anti-protest bill: The Cornell Law School First Amendment Clinic and ACLU of Oklahoma filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit last week in support of a constitutional challenge to a recently-enacted Oklahoma anti-protest bill, HB 1674. This bill restricts individuals’ rights to gather, demonstrate, and protest in Oklahoma’s public streets. [The Black Wall Street Times

(Audio) Long Story Short: Democracy’s Health, A $1.87 Billion Secret, Adjusting Justice in Oklahoma: Reporter Paul Monies discusses what is known — and what remains secret — about how Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Legislature will disburse $1.87 billion in federal relief funds. Reporter Keaton Ross shares the latest on proposed changes to criminal justice laws, and how the state could finally invest the savings from previous reforms. [Oklahoma Watch

Tribal Nations News

Hundreds of millions in tribal relief aid at risk under proposed COVID-19 spending bill: Congress is weighing whether to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars meant to help tribal nations recover from the pandemic and funnel the money instead to other COVID-19 spending. [The Oklahoman

Tribe officials: Bill helps prosecution in domestic violence cases: Choctaw Nation leaders said a recent bill reauthorization shows Congress supports tribes and their criminal justice systems in wake of the McGirt decision. [Norman Transcript

Criminal Justice News

Senator requests grand jury investigation into former Shawnee coach Ron Arthur: Delinda Curtis stood in “discomfort” during a press conference at the State Capitol today as she outlined the alleged sexual misconduct her son, Rob Hair, had faced at the hands of former Shawnee Public Schools assistant athletic director and basketball coach Ron Arthur. [NonDoc] State Sen. Shane Jett is calling for Oklahoma’s multicounty grand jury to investigate school officials in Shawnee for allegedly covering up a former coach’s “calculated grooming and sexual assault of students.” [The Oklahoman

Economic Opportunity

Edmond permits illustrate workforce housing crisis: Building permits issued last year in Edmond show the average cost of a new single-family home is $421,325. “That is the beginning of what we would call a workforce housing crisis,” Josh Moore said Wednesday during a presentation at the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce. [The Journal Record

Main Street communities celebrate successes at Oklahoma Capitol: Main Street ran right through the state Capitol on Wednesday. The Main Street Program, long-established in Oklahoma, includes numerous communities, and their representatives met with state lawmakers and others to celebrate, among other things, millions of dollars’ worth of investments made in often historic, downtown business districts. [The Journal Record

Economy & Business News

Muscogee Nation’s ranch and meat processing plant generate jobs, food security: On a stretch of highway between Tulsa and Okmulgee that cuts through the Mvskoke Reservation, commuters have grown accustomed to passing Duck Creek Casino, owned and operated by the Muscogee Nation. Now the view includes a neighboring business, Looped Square Meat Co., the tribe’s latest economic venture. [KOSU

Education News

UCO students protest faculty cuts amid $15 million budget shortfall: A procession of chanting students quieted to murmurs as they came face-to-face with their university president. Along the way, they chanted “save our professors” and decried the university’s plan to cut 40 or more faculty positions to help offset a $15 million budget shortfall. [The Oklahoman] The budget cuts and the way administration has handled the situation are destroying the very aspects that made UCO attractive to many students enrolled there, said one student. [The Journal Record

Cherokee Nation gives $7.5 million to northeastern Oklahoma schools: More than 100 school districts and charter schools across northeastern Oklahoma received a financial boost Wednesday from the Cherokee Nation. [Tulsa World

‘Having a voice is very empowering’: Oklahoma students push for change: A group of about 70 Oklahoma high school students gathered at the capitol on Wednesday to discuss statewide education solutions, like access to internet, college readiness programs, teacher retention, and mental health counseling. [KTUL

Quote of the Day

“When I was looking at the bill yesterday at noon it had to do with CLEET training. By two o’clock I discovered it was something significantly different. We had senators review the bill, study the legislation, tour CLEET facilities, learn about the CLEET process. Is that a good use of the people’s time?”

-Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa, questioning the committee substitute for SB 784 that transformed a bill about law enforcement training to a multipurpose education bill allowing the attorney general to investigate public schools for discrimination. 

  • Committee Substitute: A committee substitute is a revised version of legislation proposed for consideration and adoption by a committee. The committee substitute replaces, in whole, the original bill that was referred to a committee, including conference committees. It is quite common for the language of a committee substitute to be entirely different from previous versions of a bill, especially in the House of Representatives when a bill is introduced as a shell bill. The House and Senate each have rules specifying when and how a committee substitute may be introduced. [OK Policy / What’s That?

Number of the Day


More than 100,000 Oklahomans would be eligible to seal criminal records and lead more productive lives if Oklahoma implemented an automatic expungement system. [Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

Policy Note

America gets a clean record: Red and blue states across the country are leaning on technologists to help automatically clear eligible criminal records as a way to expand the workforce. Criminal records are a barrier for employment and housing, but clearing them can be a costly and time consuming process, and millions of eligible Americans don’t even try. [Axios]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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